West Fork Cimarron River

Sunday, Sprocket and I drove up Owl Creek Pass to go play in the snow. At the top of the pass headed up the West Fork Road. I’d never been up that way and really enjoyed the views of all the mountains surrounding the basin.

Sprocket was mostly just glad to be playing in snow again:

Alpine Loop: Fall

Last week, Bob and his friend Judy were in town and wanted to head up into the mountains in the Jeep. We had just gotten snow a few days prior but it looked like there might be enough melted off that we could get up into the high country one last time. It was such a beautiful day that we decided to take the top and doors off the Jeep as well; it was a little chilly on the highway but being able to see out was well worth it up high! (And the sun was warm! I actually got a little sunburnt…)

Jeep tour

Alpine Loop sign

When we stopped to air down at the trailhead, Judy and Bob were already marveling at the colors. The very beginning of Engineer Pass road is really fun; the shelf above the canyon is always spectacular and the views get better and better as you go higher.

Trailhead

Engineer Pass Road

Jeep Tours

San Juan Mountain scenery

San Juan Mountains.

Ridgway Jeep Tours

San Juan Mountains

Once we reached the snow, we realized that the north slopes were still fairly covered. Fortunately, the road towards Engineer wraps up the southern slopes of Engineer Mountain to Oh! Point before wrapping around northwards towards the official pass (actually lower than the Point).

Engineer Pass Road

Snow blocks Engineer Pass

Instead, I hiked to the top of Engineer Mountain which sits just above the pass. The views were spectacular! I headed down to the jeep where F and Bob had decided they wanted to head up to the summit as well, so I headed back up with them! From the top I definitely spent some time plotting assents of other mountains near the pass; there’s so much to explore here!

Engineer Mountain Panorama

Bob on Engineer Mountain

Bob at summit of Engineer Mountain

Jeep at "Oh point"

We headed back down the mountain towards Animas Forks and then on towards Silverton. Just outside of Silverton, F and I hopped out of the Jeep to explore a tight canyon (looking forward to coming back in the summer!) and to scramble up to an exploratory mine shaft. Once we were all loaded back in the Jeep, it was time to head back to the highway and home. The day was such a good way to finish out the Jeeping season in the San Juans!

Animas River

Canyon near Silverton

Adit entrance

Fall Colors

Chattanooga Area, Part 1

Chattanooga, Colorado, that is.

After we were unable to make it up Black Bear Pass, we headed east. We weren’t really sure where the road we were on was headed but it didn’t really matter because it headed up.

Our views began to open up as the road climbed and climbed. Like Black Bear Pass, there were several large snow drifts left but this road had been dozed open.

Black Bear Pass, Attempt #1

Tuesday in the absence of any real information about whether Black Bear Pass was open or not we decided to give it a shot. Turns out, there definitely still snow blocking the way. We went as far as we could before turning around and continuing the adventure elsewhere (more on that Monday).

Sprocket always appreciates the snow:

Ridgway, Ouray, and Silverton

After a chilly night in the parking lot of Thunder Mountain Raceway, we headed south through Montrose towards adorable Ridgway. We ate breakfast, walked around town, checked out the Railroad Museum’s outdoor displays, and generally became enamored with the place.

After awhile, we headed for Ouray. It has more dramatic mountain views than Ridgway but comes with the bustling feel of a tourist town to match. I obliged and snapped pictures all over town. (Adorable Victorian buildings! Mountains!)

Eventually we headed out of town making a quick stop to peer into the winter site of the Ouray Ice Park and to walk to Box Cañon Falls. (Sprocket was not a fan of all this metal grating!)

Finally we were on our way. The million dollar highway (US 550) is really one of the most beautiful roads I’ve ever been on. I can’t wait to see it again in the summer time.

We headed up and over Red Mountain Pass (11,017’…Sprocket’s lifetime high point) to Silverton. Once a bustling silver mining town, it

On our way back over the pass, we stopped to play in the snow. Sprocket was quite delighted.

San Rafael Swell: Behind The Reef

After a quick lunch in Hanksville, we headed for the San Rafael Swell. We’ve heard a lot about the area but have never made it over that way. As we started looking at maps, we realized that there really is a whole lot of exploring we need to do so away we went.

We immediately headed for the Behind The Reef road to hike some of the canyons. The weather was cold with snow and rain in the forecast and we figured there might be some shelter from the wind there. After waiting out a snow squall in the van (with a nice pot of coffee), we parked near a trailhead and did some exploring of an old mine.

It wasn’t immediately apparent what they were mining here as it was pretty shallow and there seemed to be a ton of petrified wood pried from the walls…maybe that is what the prospectors were after?

After our explorations, the snow picked up and we returned to the van. And it just didn’t stop. It was fun for a bit and then we started to worry about being downhill from the main road in conditions that were getting wetter and wetter (oh to have a 4-wheel drive van!). We hightailed it back out to pavement and decided to save the Swell for another time. We’ll definitely be back though!

La Sal Mountains: Spring Snow

Last Tuesday, we hauled all our stuff north to Moab (as pictured yesterday). It was really exciting to see some real snow covered mountains as a change from southern Arizona!

Getting a glimpse of the mountains from the road was enough for us to venture up into them for the afternoon so we grabbed a lunch, loaded Sprocket in the jeep, and away we went. We headed up La Sal Pass road which climbed quickly into the mountains.

Sprocket was very, very happy to be out playing in the mountains. He could hardly contain himself in the jeep, sticking his head over my shoulder for optimal sniffing capabilities.

When the snow drifts over the road stopped us, we started hiking. Sprocket immediately ran to the nearest patch of snow and did his usual crazy dog act:

The views from our hike were pretty incredible:

Friday Sprocket Flashback

I’ve been horrible about posting this week. It’s just been kinda busy and internet access hasn’t been super forthcoming for me. Anyway, it’s Friday for most of the world (I don’t ever know what day it is anymore) and since Sprocket mentioned his awesome 1st snow experience on his reverse bucket list last week I figured I’d share some of the cute.

Reverse Bucket List: Sprocket

I shared my reverse bucket list yesterday and today it’s Sprocket’s turn! He’s excited to share all of his awesomeness with you guys:

 

Dominated my first snow at age 10 weeks. My parents took me up to Mary’s Peak in Oregon and I was plowing through the snow!

I’ve visited 31 states. I’m only three. Mom & Dad say I should be able to hit up a few more this year too!

Partied in New Iberia, LouisianaEven at a few months old, I knew how to bring the party.

Climbed a 10,000′ foot mountain. My lifetime high point is actually Loveland Pass in Colorado (11,990′) but we drove to the top. I climbed Trapper Peak (10,157′) in Montana all by paw power.

Was the Best Dog at my parents wedding.

Gone backpacking. (Twice!) I love hiking but backpacking? I hike, I eat, I swim, and get to cuddle in the tent? WIN. I plan on doing more of this in the next few months.

Perfected the perfect mad-dog water jump: